Big Bird Turns 40
Yo, Dora, I’m really happy for you, and I’m a let you finish, but PBS had the best children’s television show of all time.
I loved Sesame Street. I still do. I guess that’s why I’m slightly offended when my 4-year-olds act like there are cooler, more interesting characters to watch on TV than the likes of Big Bird and The Count. As a 30-something parent with her own precious memories of the show, and as one who’s relied on Elmo on more than one occasion (even if it was just to get dishes done or make veggies disappear) I resent my twins' indifference. Cookie Monster could take Caillou, no question. Big ups to Little Bill, but come on. No other show makes learning fun while celebrating diversity while encouraging positive interaction and highlighting the importance of playing fair. I know that goes against the Toddler’s Creed, I’m just sayin’.
Trying to keep my kids intellectually afloat in a sea of saccharine programming (nothing personal, Lazy Town) is no joke. I now realize that the reason my mom responded to PBS’s yearly fundraising campaign with such fervor was because Sesame Street worked wonders for my tenderheadedness (she used the show as a ploy to get me to sit still while she braided my hair) and taught me valuable life lessons at the same time. And what busy mama (or papa) can’t appreciate being rescued —momentarily, anyway—from picking Cheerios up off of the floor by a musical interlude by Stevie Wonder, John Legend or Jill Scott? Or a lesson on emotions through a spoof of Mad Men?
My kids can stage a sit-in for The Backyardigans if they want to; I’m looking forward to checking out today's premiere of Sesame Street's 40th anniversary season. With an environmental theme entitled, “My World is Green and Growing,” and an appearance by Michelle Obama, the street that's always felt like home to me just seems to get better with time. Yet somehow, it still remains timeless—consistently showing us the way things “should be,” by creating a world where every child counts.
-- MEERA BOWMAN-JOHNSON